Uninsured Motorist Coverage
May 18, 2005 1:15 PM   Subscribe

Car Insurance question - I was in an accident over New Years, where a friend of mine and I were hit by a drunk driver while crossing the street. The driver fled, and was never caught by the cops. 5 months later, I've found out he filed a claim with his car insurance company for a significant amount of money, and been approved.

I have 100,000/300,000 coverage for uninsured motorists, and I'm now trying to file a claim (never considered auto insurance would cover this sort of thing because I wasn't in a car when I was hit), but I'm running into some crap from my insurance company. They've started by telling me that I have to "know", whatever that means, the person who hit and ran me. Shouldn't the coverage be for anyone What are my options, and has anyone gone through something similar?

I'm insured in MA through Safety, and the accident was in Rhode Island.
posted by SweetJesus to Law & Government (17 answers total)
Wow, that got butched at some point. "Where a friend of mine and I were hit". Also, just for clarity's sake, my friend filed the insurance claim, not the hit and run driver. They never caught that prick.
posted by SweetJesus at 1:18 PM on May 18, 2005

Also, I was injured. In the hospital for 4 days with a broken jaw and minor head trauma. Went through two different jaw reconstructions over the month of January, and I'm eventually going to need to get braces. Hospital bills that I've seen are upwards of 100,000 bucks, but most of that has been covered by my medical insurance.
posted by SweetJesus at 1:27 PM on May 18, 2005

call a lawyer
posted by mischief at 1:31 PM on May 18, 2005

That's further along in the process. I'm planning on it, but I want to get a general overview of what I should expect.

But thanks for the help.
posted by SweetJesus at 1:34 PM on May 18, 2005

Just some general responses from a former auto insurance agent (sadly).

Usually to file a claim under Uninsured motorists, you need to either get the other person's info, like drivers license, address, etc or file with the ploice that you were hit and the person fled the scene. This should, theoreticly get your claim rolling.

If you weren't in a vehicle when you were hit (walking on a sidewalk) things can get a bit tricky. Your auto insurer may want to hand you off to your health insurance provider. Generally speaking, no insurance company will want to pay out if they think another insurer possibly, maybe, could be the solution to your problems.

Uninsured motorists coverage (in most states) is intended to cover hit and run. I would start by bringing by a copy of you police report to your agent's office and ask them what the problem is in starting a claim.

On preview - if part has been already covered by medical, this is going to get drawn out and not be fun. But your UI/UIM might swing the rest of your bills. A lawyer can be good for advice, but remember that in this case if you took things to court, you would be suing the insurance company.
posted by efalk at 1:36 PM on May 18, 2005

Yes yes yes call a lawyer. Find one who specializes in insurance claims. They should be willing to take this case for a percentage of whatever money they are able to get you from your insurance company. Obvious this is anecdotal and no guarantee that your situation will work out the same way, but I used to work for an attorney who handled insurance claims and sometimes it was just a matter of the insurance company getting a call or a letter for an attorney.

Actually, my theory is that some insurance companies deny claims across the board and only pay when the customer gets a lawyer involved. So yes, call a lawyer.

On preview - okay good, you are planning to call a lawyer but I would still suggest doing so sooner rather than later. In all liklihood you won't be going to court at all, and an attorney will expedite the process of getting paid.
posted by jennyb at 1:40 PM on May 18, 2005

FYI: Average percentage for a lawyer is about 30%, anyone asking for more is a crook.
posted by Kellydamnit at 1:52 PM on May 18, 2005

Open the phone book, and pick out a Personal Injury lawyer that looks legit. Call them and ask them if they do free phone consultations. They'll tell you they do and they'll answer all your questions and try to show you how smart they are, how screwed you are and how much you need their help. If you like the way the phone conversation goes, make an appointment to see them and sign up with them to represent you. If you don't like the way the phone call goes or if you want to try another lawyer out, tell them you appreciate their help and you'll probably be calling them back in a day or two to set up an appointment. Then grab the phone book again and call a different lawyer. By the third or fourth, if you make it that far, you'll find one you like.

This is their area of expertice, they'll help you more and they'll get you more money, than the 1/3rd they'll take. It'll be worth it and you will not owe them a dime out of your pocket. You can ask them this when you call, but for PI cases like this, they usually all work for free if they don't get you any money. You should never actually have to pay them anything, they they always should get you more money (1/3rd more money if not more, to be exact...) than you'd be able to get on your own.

Additionally, if you don't want to just pick one out of the phone book, ask some friends if they've ever had a PI lawyer and liked them, look in craigslist, or find a "cool" one in the local weekly.

Remember, at this point you CANNOT trust any insurance company. Your own insurance company (those that should be your friend and will pretend to be) have it in their interest to keep you from getting as much help / medical assistance / money / whatever as you need. Every chiropractic visit, every doctors visit, every PT session, every x-ray, every medication, every doller in pain and suffering, comes out of their pocket. They may pretend to be your friend but they truly are the enemy in this situation.
posted by pwb503 at 3:16 PM on May 18, 2005

Thanks a bunch. I'm calling a lawyer tomorrow.
posted by SweetJesus at 3:20 PM on May 18, 2005

Bear in mind that the 1/3 or nothing deal typically only applies to their time spent working for you. They will usually not foot the bill for expenses e.g. those related to procuring your medical records. Those expenses may amount to nothing, or they may amount to a lot.
posted by randomstriker at 4:25 PM on May 18, 2005

Why hire a lawyer? Who are you going to sue, the insurance company? A PI lawyer may or may not have expertise in pursuing claims against insurers on behalf of policy holders. Since you have yet to finish discussions with your insurer contacting a lawyer seems premature at this point. Did your health insurer adequately cover you? If so, most if not all of any recovery from your auto insurer will go to the health insurer. Why are you pursuing this? Of course if you have paid these expenses out of your own pocket without compensation then this might be a different story.
posted by caddis at 4:31 PM on May 18, 2005

Hire a lawyer or don't hire a lawyer, but you should talk to one. To counter what caddis just said. Any PI lawyer worth anything will have a ton of expertise pursuing claims agains insurers on behalf of policy holders, that's what they do every day. A PI lawyer will try to sell you on the idea you need him; but the insurance company will sell you on the idea you don't need him. The truth is somewhere inbetween and differs for each person.
posted by pwb503 at 5:13 PM on May 18, 2005

I know this doesn't help you at all, but I just wonder how you know the driver was drunk, if he/she fled the scene and was never caught?
posted by ajbattrick at 4:55 AM on May 19, 2005

I know it's trite to hate the insurance co. But from my perspective it's not always justified. It all depends on the individuals you have to deal with. My job was to judge PI cases and pay compensation. If you are legitimate and reasonable in your conduct I will bend over backwards to not only give pertinent advice, help you find reputable treatment providers but also pay you out as fast as possible in an open and fair assessment of your case. But then, I'm in Oz.
In your circumstances, because the facts of the case will need investigation I would agree that a lawyer is a useful asset. If it was my friend or my mother or me, I would do the same here.
posted by peacay at 5:27 AM on May 19, 2005

Caddis is right. Personal injury lawyers do not as a general matter, specialize in helping people sue their own insurers. Their specialty is helping people sue whoever caused the injuries, which usually entails going up against that other party's insurance companies.

Coverage litigation, as suits against one's own insurer are called, are hard lawsuit to win, and a much dryer well in terms of settlements and awards. (The most important reason is that your UIM policy limit is $100k, making the maximum recovery on contigency about $33k -- no deep pockets.) For this reason, it's a lot harder to find qualified counsel who will work only on contingency. You may well have to put down a substantial retainer to get a qualified lawyer to take this on.
posted by MattD at 6:10 AM on May 19, 2005

I don't know the driver was drunk, but I was hit on a main road (Atwells Ave, Providence RI) at a little after midnight on New Year's Eve. The guy plowed through two people going about 45 mph, and never touched his brakes. I'm just making educated guesses.

Also, I'm not talking about suing my insurance company. I just want to talk with a lawyer so I know what my options are.
posted by SweetJesus at 7:09 AM on May 19, 2005

In Oz pedestrians have rights to pursue a personal injury claim against the drivers policy. In a situation where the driver is unidentified, again the pedestrian can pursue a claim through a government body, however the claim is managed by an elected insurance company, there are certain particulars the pedestrian would need to provide to the insurer before the claim is accepted. People do get legal advice regarding their injury claims, but there are alot of people who manage claims themselves, depending on the nature of the injuries and their claim.

Some people may also have private insurance to cover them for road accidents but the above description is a common way people claim for damages when involved in road accidents.

I'm not familiar with the American system, but is it possible your insurer would try to recover costs of your claim from the driver hence the need for his/her name. I'd read through the policy wording, it may saVe you some legal costs, contact the insurer and ask questions, but a lawyer should also be consulted if your're not getting anywhere with your insurer.
posted by Chimp at 11:58 AM on May 19, 2005

« Older Gas caps on cars - which side?   |   Best yoga video on Netflix? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.